Live: Four Tet Gets The Crowd Jumping At P.S. 1
Better than: Any other Warm Up show you'll see this summer. (Probably.)
I have to admit, right off the bat: Per my stubborn insistence on darting up and down Manhattan in pursuit of a mostly-drunk Ryan Trecartin (the Los Angeles-based video artist whose Any Ever series is on display at PS1 now), I missed the more sun-baked hours of Saturday's marathon at MoMA's Queens satellite. But I wasn't the only one; by the time I rolled up to P.S. 1, a touch before 5 p.m., the vast majority of what would soon be a packed-to-the-jambs crowd in the courtyard was still snaked patiently 'round the block. (If the Museum doesn't mention the line-cutting privileges that come with its membership cards, starting to advertise that would make a sound business move.)
FaltyDLa.k.a. Drew Lustmanis based in NYC, but his heart may well be lost in the depths of UK garage and Chicago house. During his set, he didn't indulge in any of the minimalist vibe-outs or Boards of Canada synths found on his new album You Stand Uncertain; rather, he turned in a solid hour heavy on both bass and material by his influences (including "Street Halo" by Burial). If Lustman spun his newish single "Hip Love," it must have been while I was still getting my hand stampedwhich would be a shame, considering I find the abstract, horns-drowned track to be one of the year's best songs.
Oh well: onward. After a brief interlude SBTRKT (pronounced Subtract, a.k.a. Aaron Jerome) took to the stage, where he was joined by fellow Londoner and masked man Sampha, a vocalist/keyboard player who appears quite a bit on SBTRKT's new, self-titled album. The set was off to a pretty sluggish start, hampered by Sampha's weariness and Jerome's occasionally awkward insistence on quasi-live dance music (though his drumming was airtight and metronomic throughout). Attendees filtered into the exhibit halls, taking advantage of the AC and checking out Trecartin's Sibling Topics. Jerome and Sampha eventually picked up the slack with an especially body-rocking, Drake-inclusive version of blog hit "Wildfire." When Jerome busted a live beat over the song's digital backbone, the pit responded with one of the day's loudest cheers, and they were in his pocket from then on.
That is, until Four Tet arrived onstage. By this point the crowd had swelled to a dangerous level in both size and anticipation, and Kieran Hebden crowned himself with a bit of jazz brass, its friendly melody made nauseous and self-loathing by the dark, twisted inversions of his turntables. From there, he hypnotized deeper with a phantasmic spin of Four Tet's "Love Cry"; though he could have ruled the night with a set of nothing but his own tunes, Hebden wisely avoided his own discography for the rest of the set. Instead, like a good DJ, he tried to guess what the crowd wanted to hear and, like a great DJ, he usually guessed right.
As a beat technician, Hebden seemed most comfortable in the realms of techno, house, and disco neu and old. But his set paid its biggest dividends when he was willing to offer a respite of reggaeton syncopation, or a rush of hip-hop summer jams. The biggest collective "oh shit!" moment of the night came when he banged a verse and chorus of P. Diddy's "Bad Boy for Life," then burned through all of Nas's latest return-to-the-streets anthem, "Nasty." Hebden's transitions went a bit slipshod at moments like these, but rekindled memories of Sean Combs couplets kept most from noticing.
The crowd just started surfing at around 8:40, so there was plenty of momentum left. But Hebden played by the rules and cut out when his 90 minutes were up, walking offstage to the strains of "Funky Kingston." While I'm confessing to all my journalistic sins of the day, I will note that though the night didn't end there, it did for me: I suppose there's a chance MoMA memberships might help you cut the line for a Four Tet afterparty at the Marcy, but I wasn't about to press my luck.
Critical bias: I find it difficult to keep myself fair and balanced in the face of "There Is Love In You," the Bad Boy Family, and Toots all in one night.
Overheard: "I'm most excited for Four SetUm. Four Tet's. Set."
Random notebook dump: FREE EARL t-shirt spotted. Appears mass-produced; vaguely Hot Topic in nature.
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